Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 37

The Minsk Regional Court is currently trying Ales Shidlovski, 19, and Vadim Lobkovich, 16, accused of defacing public buildings and offending against the state flag. The two members of the Belarusan Popular Front’s youth wing had hoisted the banned national flag on public buildings and wrote the classical patriotic verse, "Belarus Our Home, Belarus Our Temple," on buildings’ walls in their city of Stolbtsy, Minsk region. Shidlovsky and Lobkovich have unlawfully been detained in "pre-trial custody" since last August and October, respectively. In a parallel development, the authorities have arrested construction entrepreneur Andrei Klimau, a member of the forcibly dissolved parliament from the United Civic Party, for unspecified financial offenses. Klimau is one of the businessmen from the beleaguered private sector who support the democratic opposition.

Reacting to these and other recent cases of repression in Belarus, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution of concern over "criminal prosecution of nongovernmental organizations, public activists and political opponents" by the government, which is "thereby widening the gap between Belarus and the democratic world." The resolution calls for the release of those — specifically including the two students — who were detained "in breach of all international standards;" and for "an end to all intimidation measures against journalists, opposition members, and other public figures." Under the resolution, the EP — which is the legislative arm of the European Union — rules out implementation of the EU-Belarus Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and "any further cooperation" until the Belarus authorities correct their violations of human and civil rights. The EP shall provide "financial support for programs to enhance civil society in Belarus." (Belapan, Russian agencies, February 20 through 23)

Tbilisi Links "Zviadist" Violence to Russian Attempts to Thwart Projects.